Canada To Test Universal Basic Income For Citizens


by Jacob Bojesson

The Canadian province of Ontario will join several European countries in testing Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) in the near future.

UBI is a a monthly allowance given to all citizens regardless of their socioeconomic status. Ontario’s regional government will release its designs for a pilot program in 2016.

Several European countries, such as Finland and the Netherlands, are in the process of testing it to better figure out what the effects would be on society. The concept has been debated in Canada since the 1970s and a pilot program in Dauphin, Manitoba ran between 1974 and 1979.

(RELATED: European Countries Debate Giving Monthly Allowances To Citizens)

Sheila Regehr, chair of the Basic Income Canada Network, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the system has to be tailored to fit the society it serves. Considerations for the tax system and the social services provided are essential when outlining the plan, Regehr added.

“The kind of thing that might work in Canada might not work in the U.S. or somewhere else, so we’re looking very much at our situation,” Regehr told TheDCNF.

The Ontario trial will not be a “Milton Friedman kind of basic income,” according to Regehr, where citizens are expected to completely care for themselves, with no alternative welfare services available.

“That is not the phase of basic income that we in the movement, generally, in Canada are promoting,” Regehr told TheDCNF. “The Ontario government isn’t looking at it that way either.”

A common argument against UBI is people’s inability to handle their funds rationally. Declan Gaffney, who served as an adviser for the British government on social policy issues, believes the concept sounds too good to be true “because it is.”

“Unless we are completely relaxed about long-term worklessness – and all the evidence tells us we should not be – some form of conditionality seems to be essential,” Gaffney wrote in an op-ed in December. “But if UBI were subject to conditionality much of what it aims to eliminate would reappear: sanctions, eligibility testing, welfare bureaucracy.”

Regehr believes declines in labor participation, which she says are decimal, are transferred to efforts in other areas.

“A transfer from working the labor market to working at home or in education [are] still productive contributions to society,” she said.

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